South African triathlete Mhlengi Gwala attacked with a chainsaw

South African triathlete Mhlengi Gwala 27 was out cycling when three men attacked him and attempted to saw off his legs

It is alleged that the men dragged Gwala into a secluded pathway near UKZN, where they held him down and tried to saw off his leg.

Shange added Gwala was at a loss as to the motive of his attackers. Colleagues said the blade appeared to be too blunt and the men started on his second leg before stopping and running away.

Gert Oosthuizen, the deputy sports minister for South Africa, has already spoken out about the attack, calling it a "totally unacceptable" assault on a "star athlete" of the country.

Police are investigating the case as attempted murder, according to the BBC. The attackers were reportedly attempting to rob Gwala, and the athlete allegedly tried offering money and his cell phone from the side of a road in Durban, a coastal South African city that played host to the World Cup in 2010. They had a handsaw and went for one of his legs‚ which is the concerning part.

When they got to the bone and couldn't cut anymore, they started in on his left leg.

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"I have never heard of any enemies that he may have", Jackson told the Associated Press. We don't know yet how far they went in.

Jackson said he was told the assailants were speaking in a language that Gwala could not understand. All we know is that Mhlengi is alive‚ he is talking and that he is under medical care.

Gwala, who was set to compete in the South African national championships this month, was undergoing a five-hour surgery for his injuries, said Dennis Jackson, director of the elite athlete program for the KwaZulu-Natal province. "Absolutely disgusting! How safe are we on SA roads?".

Gwala is a strong contender for the race which is a 40k cycle, 10k run and 1.7k swim.